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Blog | 15 March 2021

What do we mean by “intersectional feminism”?

Understanding the term and how our work relates to it

The term intersectionality was coined by an academic called Kimberle Crenshaw in the 1980s. Crenshaw used the term to describe the experience of multiple oppressions, initially with a focus specifically on race. More recently, she explained “We tend to talk about race inequality as separate from inequality based on gender, class, sexuality or immigrant status. What’s often missing is how some people are subject to all of these, and the experience is not just the sum of its parts.” 1

At Survivors’ Network our approach aims to be intersectional, recognising that people do not live single-issue lives. We see people as their whole, full selves. This means that we recognise that as individuals, our identities include a range of social categories such as class, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, nationality, immigration status, and so on. We use the term intersectional to refer to the complexity of people’s experiences, and to the way that we approach supporting you as a person with varied experiences.

We understand that people who come to us will be survivors of sexual violence, but they may also be a parent, a person of colour who has disabilities, a migrant, a working-class older person, a younger person who speaks English as a second language, or any combination of these identities and more. This will mean that they need a dynamic, responsive and intersectional service, who really sees them and is able to adapt to meet their needs.

As an organisation we aim to be led by intersectional politics and practice, creating an infrastructure that is inclusive of all people and their intersecting identities, and which aims to provide accessible services for all. We recognise that many services create barriers for people from marginalised communities, or fail to recognise the complexity of supporting people who experience multiple forms of marginalisation. At Survivors’ Network we are committed to addressing and removing these barriers.

We know that this is not something that can be achieved overnight but is rather an ongoing practice. We are always learning as a staff team and as a local community, and we welcome support to do so.